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Publication of 2014 HSE Service Plan

The National Service Plan 2014 for the health services was published following approval by the Minister for Health; Dr James Reilly T.D. The Service Plan sets out the type and volume of services the HSE will provide directly, and through a range of funded agencies, during 2014. These health and social care services must be delivered within the €13.120 billion funding provided by Government and within the stipulated employment levels.

The HSE budget for 2014 reflects total cost reductions of €619m in health services. The HSE, working closely with the Minister for Health and his Department, succeeded in ensuring that the target of €113m set against medical card probity will now come from other sources rather than from medical cards. This sum remains a target to be achieved, but will come instead from €47m additional monies from Government, with the balance coming from a reduction in money set aside for lump-sum pension payments in 2014. A €23m probity target remains in relation to medical cards.

The savings target of €108m, which was an element of the overall targeted payroll savings, will now be put to one side and subject to a separate process over the coming months.

Additional savings and cost containment measures of €129m have also been identified. These include savings in the area of procurement (€30m), shared services (€10m), value for money (€10m) and hospital reconfiguration (€7.5m).

While the additional €47m in health service funding is to be welcomed, 2014 remains a very challenging year ahead both in service and financial terms for the health service.

The health service wide priority in 2014 will be to protect the quantum and quality of frontline services. Every member of staff, both clinical and management roles, will focus on ensuring that services are delivered to the highest levels of safety and quality possible.

Mr. Tony O'Brien, Director General of the HSE; commented; "This is the first Service Plan to be presented by the newly established Directorate of the HSE. I welcome the support of Government in dealing with some of the concerns that arose following budget day. Notwithstanding, there remains a significant challenge for the health services throughout 2014. My principal focus is to continue to deliver the same level of frontline services with a reduced budget while ensuring that quality and safety is not compromised in any way. In the context of a reduced budget, the Haddington Road Agreement provides an important mechanism by which this Service Plan can be delivered."

In 2014 €178m in additional funding is being provided for vital service developments including bicochlear implants (€3.2m), additional medical cards (35m); organ donation and transplant services (€2.92m); medical oncology and haemato-oncology (€3.8m); home care packages to support the discharge of special care babies from hospital (€1.2m); the implementation of recommendations following the Galway maternity reports (€1.48m), diabetic retinopathy (€4.5m), and continue the roll out of BowelScreen (€2m).

Furthermore, through Programme for Government commitments, a total of €57m has been provided for GP services for children aged 5 years and under (€37m) and mental health services (€20m).

The Service Plan also incorporates unavoidable budget pressures arising from demographic pressures and increased demand for medical cards, drugs, and other health services. This is against a backdrop of a reduction in overall health service funding of almost €4billion since 2008 and with staff reductions of over 10,000 in that time.

The Service Plan for 2014 will be focused on delivering on the Health Service reform programme. 2014 will see the phased implementation of “Money Follows the Patient”, the transition to Hospital Groups and eventually to Hospital Trusts, the development of new community, personal and social care service structures, and the development of a commissioning function as part of the gradual transition to a commissioning model for health services.

Also in 2014 will be the establishment of the Patient Safety Agency on an administrative basis and the roll out of the new eHealth Ireland strategy.  Furthermore, 2014 will see the transfer of responsibility for children and family services to the new Child and Family Agency.

Divisional Service Plans (to replace previous Regional Service Plans) will be published in early to mid-January.